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News & views

Different Stokes for different Foakes

[10 Mar 2013] Quirky surnames provide much guilty pleasure here at Plain Language Towers, and our mercury of mirth is rising as the current crop of promising England cricketers includes blokes by the name of Foakes, Stokes and Woakes.

It recalls those joyous days of 1979 when cricket fans could open the morning paper and find a line in the England–Australia scorecard reading: ‘Lillee caught Willey bowled Dilley’. How we chortled uncontrollably, spraying the breakfast table and any nearby spouses and children with slightly masticated bits of toast.

Even better was 1976, when Test Match Special recorded the efforts of the West Indian Michael Holding to smite Peter Willey’s occasional off-spin to all parts of the Oval. Many of us still believe we heard Brian Johnston intone with Old Etonian solemnity, ‘And the batsman’s Holding, the bowler’s Willey’; and nothing will persuade us the story is apocryphal. [MC]

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